It was depressing, walking next to the police officer. The man was unhappy. Now that he'd finished fooling around and venting his frustration (bottled up from the ship's captain, probably), the boy named Crow could feel it radiating off 'Rupert' in waves. Not quite sadness, maybe, but certainly an underlying unhappiness, the sensation of being a misfit, the instinctive lack of trust for the rest of humanity. It was painful, the way Kafka had been painful, only amplified. At least Kafka had been willing to talk. Silence was depressing.
...frankly, however, being awake this early in the morning was depressing.
Heaving a sigh, Crow stretched his arms in a comfortably swooping circle, not dissimilar to a rook shaking out its wings. They'd wandered purposefully through the early morning traffic, past buildings which were far from the beautiful nature around the library back home. At last he caught sight of a park. It got him grinning again, casting a glance at the man to see if he could slip off and curl up in a tree--
--something in the air changed. The boy perked, as if listening, then again grabbed onto the officer's arm again, tugging him toward a building apparently at random. Someone from home was here, in that building, smelling like stone and flower and mountain. It was comforting; he wanted to be near it as soon as possible.
He felt wretched. It wasn't the disease however, but the previous night of drinking that he really shouldn't have indulged in. Really, what had Susumu been thinking? Letting them drink that much?
The fresh air hadn't helped, and the sun was too bright, and the people in this town were too noisy. And it was far too early to be at work, Souji thought.
He glanced up when he saw two figures approaching the embassy and squinted slightly from the sunlight. Was one of them Japanese? Was the other police? Souji frowned, and the illness he felt vanished.
"Can I help you, gentlemen?" he asked, stepping down the front stairs and putting himself between them and the door.
Someone with the right accent and the right face and the right translation skills. The grin was hard to repress. The boy called Crow didn't notice that he'd been shaken off of the bulky European's arm, happy to simply stumble forward into an awkward bobbing bow at the bottom of the stairs. Tilting his head sideways, he grinned up from his confused genuflected state.
"What a relief," he chirruped brightly in Japanese. "I was starting to think civilization had vanished off the face of the Earth..."
Souji glanced at the boy who stumbled forward and then, before the boy could react, cuffed him upside the head, and turned him around and forced his head down into a terribly forced, but would-be-acceptable bow.
This was not how Souji had wanted to start his morning.
"We're terribly sorry for any trouble the boy has caused." Souji said, offering a bow himself to the police officer, hand still firm against the child's head. He kept the boy bowed as he raised himself up.
"If he's caused any damage, we'll of course, gladly, make restitution."
*Riddick Laughs at this.* "He's not been any trouble, needs his mouth watching though." *Turning to Crow.* "I might not be able to speak Japanese but I can tell when somebodies insulting me." *Tipping his hat to Soujin.*
Damnit, Kafka needed to stop being so happy. It was lingering on his reactions, making him flail slightly against the rough treatment. Toughtest damn 15-year-old indeed; he'd beat that pretender up when he got back home. If he got back home.
If he was ever allowed to stand up again. The ambassador was strong for such a slight man.
Souji bowed again, offering apologies for the Police's time and trouble and then for the insults as he began to turn away. Any apology he could think of, really. He hated it, apologizing. But he was Japanese and there were codes of behavior to follow.
At least, there was one thing open to him. Closed fist, he gave Crow a smart knock to the head.
"Idiot. Do you not realize how much trouble you could have been in?" Souji asked the boy sharply once Riddik had move off down the street.
"Can't you feel how dangerous that man in? What did you do?"
The boy managed to take the second round of abuse much more calmly, grimacing and rubbing at his head while shooting the man an accusing look. "I didn't do anything, old man! I got off my boat and that person started chasing me like a criminal. I even fell over and hurt myself before he stopped being so aggressive and said he'd bring me here. Che, not even worth coming, if people are so violent..."
Crow had, of course, no intention of admitting (possibly ever) that it was nice to understand fully what someone was saying, and even nicer to be defended in a twisted, mildly abusive way.
Souji waited until Riddik was out of sight and then turned his eyes onto the boy who he had finally released, and sighed at him, ignoring most of the boy's comments. He was just a child.
"He wouldn't have chased you if you hadn't done something."
Although Souji wasn't entirely sure about that. He hadn't liked the feeling of that man. Something hadn't sat right with him at all, and he wished Susumu was around.
"Well, come on then." Souji said with a sigh, turning and heading into the building. "Lets get some tea and food into you."
Angry wasn't going to work. Crow cast his mind around, digging through personalities and thoughts and stories. Of course, Kafka would bleed into him a little, but the orphan he'd talked out of suicide in Nagoya was still fairly strong with him.
His shoulders slumped a little at the mild accusation, a hurt look flashing across his face. Trust issues; they gnawed around the corners of his mind until he actually felt the uncomfortable sensation of not being believed, the auto-shut-down being disbelieved initiated. Crow's foot steps were hesitant and untrusting as he followed the ambassador up the stairs, gnawing his lower lip. The hunger and emaciation he didn't need to fake.
Souji silently led the scruffy, half starved boy through the corridors of the building. He stopped briefly when he found a young clerk and sent him to find someone to get a decent breakfast for the child.
Souji was still silent as he ushered the boy forward, and finally, closed it behind them.
With the door closed finally, Souji gestured to a cushion surrounding a low table.
With the door safely closed, Souji offered somehting of a weary, half hearted smile. The cool professional appearance melting away.
"You've caught me on a bad day. But it's better I found you, than one of the others." He passed the boy to the other side of the table, giving his hair a good natured ruffle, before he folded his feet under him, and rested his chin in his hand, elbow on the table.
"Now, we need to figure out what to do with you. There'll be no hiding you... they'll have seen you approach the building. What are you running from?"
It took a bit of effort, but the boy managed to bite back something sullen about drunks and light-weights. Slumping dejectedly on his seat, legs sprawled sideways, Crow wrinkled his nose at the affectionate gesture, ducking away from it slightly and fixing his hair the moment the other's fingers left his head. He kept his head down, eyes on his hands as he picked at a hangnail.
Think disconsolate. Think abused. Think seriously depressive.
"...you'll just hit me again if I tell you, ambassador-sama."
"Following that logic, boy, wouldn't it make sense that I would hit you doubly hard for disobeying and angering me?" Souji asked, watching him from his spot across the table. "Maybe it would anger me more than hearing about what foolishness you're involved in."
But Souji didn't sound or look like he was remotely angry. A little bit tired maybe, but still bearing up well. The number of times Souji had been legitimately angry were few, and he could remember each of them. And they numbered less than the fingers on his hands.
"Now, come on. Don't be difficult. I helped you out of a mess, and I'm giving you food. The least you can do is share your story with me."
The boy named Crow was silent for a moment, studying the older male across the table with the sharp, critical eye of a ruffled bird. The argument was a good one. He liked the being fed part best.
Head down slightly, shoulders hunched in anticipation of a blow (it wouldn't hurt the image to cower, even if it went against his sensibilities), the boy murmured softly, "Promise you won't send me back first."
"I'll see to it he eats and sleeps properly." Souji said, amusement still glimmering on his face as they arrived at the kitchen and he ushered Crow in behind Susumu. "Just be sure to listen to him when it sounds serious... He's a good man. Be kind to him."
One of the wives--or maybe one of Susumu's kunoichi--was putting a bowl of rice and some other dishes out onto a tray, and stopped long enough to offer them a bow as they entered.
"Yamazaki-san and I will have some tea." He told the girl, gesturing to a table for the boy to go sit at.
Walking ahead of the two a little, Susumu pretended as if their conversation was out of range. Of course it wasn’t (the man was always listening), but he ignored enough of it to keep his temper in check. He scowled freely with the knowledge that they couldn’t see his face from behind.
When they entered the kitchen he nodded to the woman with the rice, then turned back to Souji and the boy. “I’ll be back in a moment.” he said, before slipping off through a set of doors and into deeper parts of the kitchen where the pantries and silverware were located.
"Too many rules this early in the morning without food," the boy whined softly. His face was too angular to properly make puppy-eyes; it lacked the childish pudge to be truly adorable. The lean look simply worked a different way. You didn't get to feeling warm and fuzzy about the boy named Crow. You just worried that he might pass out on you if you didn't get some meat on his bones.
There hadn't been any rats on the ship. He would have gone for rats. Bread crumbs were simply not enough.
"Ne, nii-chama... is he always so grumpy, though?"
Souji laughed at the boy's whining. It reminded him of himself at the boy's age... That had been one of the reasons, he thought, that he had decided to step in and interfere. He perhaps saw himself in the boy. Even if he was scrawnier than Souji had ever been...
"He's quite grumpy and serious." Souji said as he accepted a cup of tea from the girl, smiling a little inwardly. He'd hadn't thought he'd ever get along with Susumu when he'd first met him. THat first, cold impression and how he hadn't returned Souji's good natured smiles... All serious and business... truthfully, he wished crow could see how far Susumu had come. He wasn't the same man Souji had first met. He'd been so much colder and untrusting then.
"But truthfully, he's very soft hearted and kind--it just takes patience and time to see it." Souji said.
It was also his personal project, to get Susumu to relax and be happy if could, before he died. Crow was going to be part of that project.
"He will look after you well, I promise you."
"Like some kind of twisted science experiment, ne?" Crow half-asked, half-sighed, slumping his shoulders a little more. Adults were trickier to read than children. He really needed to get out and (stretch his wings as well as) play with some little kids in a park or something like that. "See which of us drives the other one crazy first? Or do you really believe this is going to help you make him happier, nii-chama?"
It was an off-handed question, not designed to go very deep as he poked around a little, waiting for something to scarf down. It helped keep the focus off his inability not to touch things. He'd been stuck in someone's subconscious far too long not to enjoy the way things felt against his skin.
"Of course it will make him happier." Souji said, giving a little shake of his head as he sat down and rested his chin in his hand, watching as lunch was served. As if he would do anything to make someone truly unhappy.
Oh, for the short term there was going to be some unhappiness... definitively, but Souji was certain it would be Short term. Souji wanted it to all work out well, and he was used to getting what he wanted...
Susumu returned, balancing a tray in each hand and with look on his face like he knew he’d been talked about. He stopped behind Crow and lowered the tray down in front of the boy carefully, only to intentionally let it drop the last couple of inches and spill from the tops of the over-full bowls. In his opinion it was enough food for two fully grown men, so it should suffice for one thin boy.
He wrapped around to the other side of the table and sat down next to Souji, setting down the second tray.
“This is for you. You’ll drink all of it and wont complain.” He said, taking a glass containing some questionable (and slightly chunky) looking liquid from the tray and putting it down in front of him. Picked the second glass up and brought it to his lips, then paused and lowered it again.
His was two-thirds a hangover remedy and one-third for health. But since Souji didn’t appear to be as effected from the night before, his concoction was the opposite; one-third for hangovers and two-thirds for health. Though Susumu knew from experience they would have an equally horrible taste.
Souji looked at the drink and had wanted to protest, but stopped, when Susumu gave him a look, and told him in plain terms there would be no argument, protest or disobeying. He'd only spoken aloud part of it, but he knew Susumu's looks well enough to know the rest. Give and Take. That was how it was going to be. Well. Fair enough. Souji told himself, justifying it in his mind, that he needed to set a good example for the boy and gave a nod of his head, taking a gulp of the liquid which proved to taste as horrid as it smelt and looked.
He was sure that Susumu was enjoying the grimace of disgust that flickered over his features.
He certainly hoped the Crow's meal was better than the foul potion he was nursing.
They were an interesting duo. Living with them would be fun. He could already tell from the way his mind was shifting into line that the experience would be maturing, perhaps a little humbling, and at the same time provide him with the much-needed time to be a child that he had never had with Kafka. Maybe this manifestation thing really wouldn't be so bad after all.
The happy smirk vanished as food dropped in front of him, replaced instantly with a barely suppressed lean look that brought out all the angles in his face into clear contrast. There was a moment's hesitation, long enough to murmur quickly (something between an eating prayer and a thank you to his hosts), before he dove into the first not-stale food he'd had in weeks. It was odd: "eating like a bird" and "scarfing food inelegantly" weren't typically complimentary adjectives.
Crow was simply talented like that.
His thoughts quickly flew elsewhere, lifting from the room while his body took care of itself. The air wasn't particularly fresh here, but it would be good to be out in it soon enough. He could probably convince the more sympathetic of his new older brothers that he needed a nap. Windows had never been a problem.